Open Knee: Open Source Modeling and Simulation in Knee Biomechanics

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Virtual representations of the knee joint can provide clinicians, scientists, and engineers the tools to explore mechanical functions of the knee and its tissue structures in health and disease. Modeling and simulation approaches such as finite element analysis also provide the possibility to understand the influence of surgical procedures and implants on joint stresses and tissue deformations. A large number of knee joint models are described in the biomechanics literature. However, freely accessible, customizable, and easy-to-use models are scarce. Availability of such models can accelerate clinical translation of simulations, where labor-intensive reproduction of model development steps can be avoided. Interested parties can immediately utilize readily available models for scientific discovery and clinical care. Motivated by this gap, this study aims to describe an open source and freely available finite element representation of the tibiofemoral joint, namely Open Knee, which includes the detailed anatomical representation of the joint's major tissue structures and their nonlinear mechanical properties and interactions. Three use cases illustrate customization potential of the model, its predictive capacity, and its scientific and clinical utility: prediction of joint movements during passive flexion, examining the role of meniscectomy on contact mechanics and joint movements, and understanding anterior cruciate ligament mechanics. A summary of scientific and clinically directed studies conducted by other investigators are also provided. The utilization of this open source model by groups other than its developers emphasizes the premise of model sharing as an accelerator of simulation-based medicine. Finally, the imminent need to develop next-generation knee models is noted. These are anticipated to incorporate individualized anatomy and tissue properties supported by specimen-specific joint mechanics data for evaluation, all acquired in vitro from varying age groups and pathological states.

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